As we approach Memorial Day, what better way to celebrate than for not one but two World War II veterans to receive their high school diplomas.
Retired Master Sergeant J.D. Sexton of Alabama and veteran Billy Mills of Texas both had the honor of earning their high school diplomas just in time for Memorial Day.
Sexton, who, according to ABC7, “fought in the Battle of the Bulge and liberated concentration camp victims realized a lifelong dream…at the age of 93.”
— Eyewitness News (@ABC7NY) May 22, 2015
Sexton was drafted in 1943, fighting for America in World War II and then continued a career in the army until 1982. Although the World War II veteran had earned his G.E.D., “he always regretted not walking across the stage at Highland Home.”
Then, in 2014, Alabama legislature passed a law that allowed certain veterans who weren’t able to finish high school because of being drafted to earn their high school diploma.
“Sexton’s wife secretly arranged for him to take part in graduation ceremonies this year.”
How did the World War II veteran feel about getting the chance to officially receive his high school diploma?
Sexton said, “It’s a wonderful thing to come up here and be with the people and to receive a diploma for high school education.”
Sexton wasn’t alone, with fellow World War II veteran Billy Mills also celebrating.
According to People, Mills was just a regular high school student before World War II. Mills admits that he did not pass his English class by “one and a half credits,” but was drafted before he could make it up.
Mills was sent to the South Pacific during World War II where he worked as a telegraph operator. When he returned, Mills married his high school sweetheart, had five children, and worked in the oil industry.
Mills’ daughter, Denice, told People, “It bothered him all these years that he never got his diploma.”
And so she contacted the local school district and set things up for her father to finally receive his diploma all these years later. The 89-year-old World War II veteran then got to walk across the stage and receive his diploma.
What would these two World War II veterans advise to kids out there about finishing school?
Sexton told fellow graduates, “Go forth in life, and put forth all the effort you have.”
Mills shared, “Stay in there, apply yourself and get that diploma.”
And so all these years later, it’s not just how they served their country during World War II, but now how these two veterans have placed such a high value on education that inspires those around them and impresses on everyone the value of hard work and dedication.
[Photo Courtesy of People]